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Freighter Captain 06-10-2005 11:31 PM

USAirways pilot viewpoint
Hello Everyone,

Yes, I'm still here and yes, it has been three weeks since my last

What can I say?

Well, for starters, unlike some folks we know, I'm not going to blame Delta
or Southwest. Unlike some other folks, I'm not going to "blame it on the
industry," nor am I going to blame it on aircraft servicing (i.e. lav
dumping) or air traffic control.

No my friends, unlike everyone in the airline industry, I don't blame anyone
or anything for the delay in getting this newsletter out. I've simply been
working -- a lot, more in May, in fact, than ever before. And it's just
been one of those things that I have not been able to sit down for x number
of hours and crank this thing out.

But, alas, here I am and there is so much I've wanted to talk about.

First, of course, there's the America West/US Airways "announcement." I say
announcement because that's all there was/is. There is no "done deal" and
hasn't it been refreshing to look around and realize that nobody is using
that term, "done deal," like they did way back when with the United/US
Airways merger was proposed?

I'll stick by my guns on this one -- I think the merger is a ridiculous
idea. I don't believe it will happen, at least as it was announced. I
think America West Chairman Doug Parker will regret the day he wanted to get
involved in this 'thing.' I say that as if it's some sort of 'entity' from
an old 'Star Trek' episode and even Mr. Spock can't get a tri-quarter
reading on it so Captain Kirk just stands there, sorta like Bruce Lakefield,
trying to figure it out.

I think if you're an America West employee, you feel like the carpet has
been pulled from beneath you - by your own chairman, no less. America West
was one of only three airlines to post a first quarter profit and surely
they will post a healthy second quarter profit when results are announced
later next month. Why oh why then do they want to get involved with 'the
power of US?'

As we all know, the first salvo was fired by the ALPA-represented pilots at
America West who have claimed that they "would view a date-of-hire type of
integration as a completely unworkable solution for the America West

Of course, the US Airways ALPA unit responded, claiming they would protect
their pilots in the course of this proposed merger with America West. But
let's face reality here folks, recent history clearly shows us that the ALPA
leadership at US Airways has been more easily taken than a freshmen coed at
her first fraternity party.

Now, you may have seen some news articles that refer to this 'combined'
airline (I'm told its secret service name is 'Amways') as being the nation's
fifth-largest airline. This is deceiving and I'll tell you why. They are
using the projected combined Available Seat Miles of both US Airways and
America West to come up with the "nation's fifth-largest airline."

The problem is that the accepted metric used to measure airline size is
Revenue Passenger Miles and not ASMs. So why are they using ASMs when
touting how big the 'combined' Amways will be? Well, you see, if they use
RPMs, you're looking at US Airways (7th largest) and America West (8th
largest) and the combination would give you the nation's sixth-largest
airline, surpassing Southwest Airlines.

It should be noted that pre-9/11, US Airways was the nation's sixth-largest
airline, however that former lurch-of-a-CEO, Stephen M. Wolf, who always
said "you can't shrink to profitability" did just that -- he shrunk US
Airways after 9/11 to a point where Southwest took over the 6th spot by
default, you might say.

So, using RPMs, 'Amways' would become the nation's 6th-largest airline.
But, the going-forward plans for Amways have the US Airways side shrinking
even more. You see where I'm going here? So the fact is, it would only be
a matter of time before Southwest Airlines (growing entity) would reclaim
their status as the nation's sixth-largest airline, once again surpassing
Amways (shrinking entity). And that my friends is why they aren't using the
standard RPMs in this case. 5th largest airline -- yeah, I'm impressed.

Now, what to make of Bruce Lakefield.

We all know the brief history of Bruce Lakefield at US Airways. He has
stated, on numerous occasions, that he only came here "as a favor to my good
friend, Dr. Bronner." He has also called his $425,000 annual salary a
"pimple" and said he needed the money to support a second home in the D.C.

So why is Mr. Lakefield going to continue to have his foot in the door by
being the 'vice-chairman' of the board of this proposed new entity?
Vice-chairman? I mean, come on now, that's about as important a role as the
assistant commissioner of arena football. And by the way Mr. Lakefield,
saying that the "only option was to merge" is an insult to every employee
who has given multiple wage concessions, work rule changes, and seen their
pensions slashed so that you (i.e. management) could run the airline as a
stand-alone carrier which, by the way, management said was the plan all
along. Wolf said it, Siegel said it and Lakefield, when asked if US Airways
was being shopped around replied, "to who - I don't know of any?" So the
"stand-alone-carrier" thing was just a mis-statement I guess.

You can go back and look at the press release on this deal and despite all the
"revenue synergies" and "customer-friendly pricing" and "most efficient work
groups in the industry" -- well, it all looks good on paper. But as any
coach will tell you, "you don't play the game on paper." I assure you
folks, it will never happen as published.

They claim that this airline will be profitable at oil prices above
$50/barrel. (I'm laughing, too) I can't wait for the excuse -- because,
especially in the case of US Airways, there is ALWAYS an excuse. (Remember
"They're coming to kill us."?)

But at the end of the day, if you ask me which airline management team I'd
like to see running the 'entity,' I think we all know the answer to that.
Go West, young man!

By the way, Judge Mitchell still hasn't ruled on the bonus $$ for US
Airways. Maybe he thinks the concern over this issue will just 'go away'
with time. Will he finally break tradition and say "no," or will he
continue his rubber stamp ways? Hopefully, we'll find out soon.


Wow, let's see now, the DOT report is out; former US Airways stooges Dave
Siegel and Neal Cohen are in the news; Spirit Air, who's CEO is former US
Airways marketing guy Ben Baldanza, has a new plane, which they christened
"The Spirit of the Baldanza." So, let's get started with the DOT report.

This DOT report, like all others, is designed to assist consumers with
information on the quality of services, or lack thereof, provided by the 19
reporting airlines. Here's the data for April, 2005:

1- Hawaiian Airlines ... 95.6%
2- ATA Airlines ... 89.0
3- Skywest Airlines ... 87.6
4- Southwest Airlines ... 86.7
5- Comair ... 85.5
6- America West Airlines ... 85.2
7- United Airlines ... 84.8
8- Independence Air ... 84.6
9- American Airlines ... 84.4
10- Northwest Airlines ... 83.7
11- Delta Air Lines ... 82.6
12- American Eagle Airlines ... 82.1
13- ExpressJet Airlines ... 81.7
14- Continental Airlines ... 80.4
15- US Airways ... 80.0
16- AirTran Airways ... 78.8
17- Atlantic Southeast Airlines ... 77.3
18- JetBlue Airways ... 77.0
19- Alaska Airlines ... 77.0
(Average: 83.4%)

Freighter Captain 06-10-2005 11:32 PM

Now, last month I wrote about, what I called, a 'disturbing trend'
developing for JetBlue Airways regarding on-time. I heard from some JetBlue
employees, as well as some of their frequent flyers, who told me that bad
weather was the cause of this. Bad weather my ass.

JetBlue's on-time problems are now chronic. In fact, according to the DOT,
JetBlue is now the worst on-time carrier. To give you an example:
In the fourth quarter (Oct., Nov., Dec.) of 2003, JetBlue ranked first among
all carriers for on-time.
In the fourth quarter of 2004, JetBlue slipped to 5th.

In the first quarter (Jan., Feb., Mar.) of 2004, JetBlue ranked 2nd.
In the first quarter of 2005, JetBlue ranked 19th - dead last.

In the 12 months ending April 2004, JetBlue ranked #1.
In the 12 months ending April 2005, JetBlue has fallen to #12.

Bad weather is not to blame here. US Airways' Mainline and Express flights
encounter more bad weather than JetBlue could ever imagine. You gonna tell
me there's bad weather above New York's Kennedy (JetBlue's home) and not a
few miles away at LaGuardia? Please. For the past five months, JetBlue
ranks dead last in on-time, and I don't recall a lot of bad weather in
April. So, unless things change, dramatically, in the coming months,
JetBlue's problem is now chronic. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy your
in-seat satellite TV -- and you'll likely to have plenty of extra time to
watch the end of your favorite show.

Congratulations to Comair for having the most delayed flight for April.
Comair's flight 5322 from JFK-CLT was late nearly 97% of the time by an
average of 57 minutes.
The rest of the field:
AirTran's flight 47 from ATL-LAS was late 83% of the time by an average of
41 minutes.
Southwest's flight 1660 from LAS-PHX was late 81% of the time by an average
of 30 minutes.
AirTran's flight 576 from ATL-EWR was late 80% of the time by an average of
66 minutes.
AirTran's flight 753 from PHL-FLL was late 80% of the time by an average of
32 minutes.

1- CLT ... 84.9%
2- PHL ... 78.0

1- PIT ... 84.4%
2- DCA ... 83.8
3- BOS ... 80.8
4- LGA ... 76.1
5- FLL ... 66.8

Well, there was a slight, and I do mean SLIGHT, improvement at PHL for
on-time arrivals for April. Last month, I told you that for March 2005, US
Airways placed 30th on the list (of the 33 major airports reported in the
DOT's report). For April, PHL was still one of the worst airports in the
country, but it moved 'up' (if you can call it that) to 29th place with an
on-time arrival percentage of 77.4. Only FLL (77.2), JFK (74.1), LGA (73.5)
and EWR (72.4) were worse.

However, when it came to on-time departures, you-know-who was the worst.
PHL posted an on-time departure percentage of 78.0, and that my friends was
the bottom of the barrel.

The worst time to arrive at PHL in April was between 10:00p-10:59p, when
only 62.4% of flights arrived on time.
The worst time to depart PHL in April was between 6:00p-6:59p, when only
64.7% of flights departed on time.

How do other airlines do for on-time arrivals at PHL you might ask?

American ... 82.3%
Continental ... 76.7
Delta ... 74.0
AirTran ... 75.1
America West ... 69.3
Northwest ... 68.3
Comair ... 81.5
United ... 72.1
Southwest ... 82.9

(worst to best for April)
19- Atlantic Southeast cancelled 950 flights, or 3.8% of their operations.
18- American Eagle cancelled 987 flights, or 2.3% of their operations.
17- Comair cancelled 641 flights, or 2.0% of their operations.
16- United cancelled 734 flights, or 1.9% of their operations.
15- Alaska cancelled 236 flights, or 1.9% of their operations.
14- Skywest cancelled 774 flights, or 1.8% of their operations.
13- Delta cancelled 1,016 flights, or 1.8% of their operations.
12- US Airways cancelled 459 flights, or 1.2% of their operations.
11- Independence Air cancelled 151 flights, or 1.2% of their operations.
10- AirTran cancelled 148 flights, or 0.9% of their operations.
9- ExpressJet cancelled 256 flights, or 0.8% of their operations.
8- Northwest cancelled 317 flights, or 0.7% of their operations.
7- America West cancelled 104 flights, or 0.6% of their operations.
6- American cancelled 358 flights, or 0.6% of their operations.
5- JetBlue cancelled 43 flights, or 0.5% of their operations.
4- ATA cancelled 16 flights, or 0.4% of their operations.
3- Southwest cancelled 285 flights, or 0.3% of their operations.
2- Continental cancelled 52 flights, or 0.2% of their operations.
1- Hawaiian cancelled 5 flights, or 0.1% of their operations.
(These 19 carriers cancelled a total of 7,532 flights in April, which
equates to 1.3% of their total scheduled operations. Additionally, there
were 781 diversions in April)

(Reports per 1,000 passengers - best to worst)
1- Hawaiian ... 2.90
2- Independence ... 2.91
3- Continental ... 3.05
4- United ... 3.08
5- JetBlue ... 3.10
6- Southwest ... 3.25
7- Alaska ... 3.31
8- America West ... 3.39
9- ATA ... 3.58
10- AirTran ... 3.63
11- Northwest ... 3.72
12- American ... 4.69
13- ExpressJet ... 5.19
14- Delta ... 6.51
15- American Eagle ... 7.67
16- Skywest ... 8.26
17- Comair ... 9.83
18- US Airways ... 10.91 (never underestimate the power of US)
19- Atlantic Southeast ... 15.75
(Average: 5.18 reports per 1,000 passengers)

Freighter Captain 06-10-2005 11:32 PM

(Complaints per 100,000 enplanements - best to worst)
1- Southwest ... 0.11
2- ExpressJet ... 0.16
3- JetBlue ... 0.33
4- Alaska ... 0.37
5- Skywest ... 0.46
6- Independence ... 0.59
7- Comair ... 0.63
8- American Eagle ... 0.69
9- America West ... 0.81
10- United ... 0.83
11- AirTran ... 0.83
12- Hawaiian ... 0.88
13- Atlantic Southeast ... 0.90
14- Northwest ... 0.94
15- Delta ... 0.95
16- ATA ... 0.96
17- Continental ... 1.04
18- American ... 1.08
19- US Airways ... 1.27 (all together, on time)
(Average: 0.79 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)

As you can see, US Airways ended up on the 'dark side' of April's report in
every category.

For April, 2005 there were:
223 complaints regarding TSA courtesy, or lack thereof
75 complaints regarding screening procedures
21 complaints regarding processing time
549 complaints regarding personal property
223 checkpoint damage claims reports
75 checked baggage (TSA and/or airline) damage claims reports

I've just been informed by the girls in my research department that Spirit
Air has named their newest Airbus 'The Spirit of the Bahamas' and not 'The
Spirit of the Baldanza' as reported earlier in this newsletter. John
McCorkle's Newsletter regrets any confusion this may have caused.

Okay, what would a newsletter be without catching up with two of our dearest
friends, Neal 'I-don't-know-what-my-compensation-package-is-worth' Cohen and
Mr. Labor-friendly himself, Dave 'I'm-not-going-to-take-the-money-and-run'

First up, Neal Cohen. When he took over the job of CFO at Northwest
Airlines recently, after his one-year hiatus spending his severance money
from US Airways, his buddy Dave Siegel said that Cohen was the best at
cutting non-labor costs. Well, in the few weeks he's been on the job, Neal
has made two incredibly cunning decisions for Northwest: eliminate pretzels
and magazines. Wow! Who woulda thunk it? These two moves will save
Northwest about $2.5 million annually which, ironically, is about what he
took from US Airways in severance. According to well-placed sources, Neal's
next move is to have the person who grates the Mozzarella cheese on the
salads to grate only one stroke per salad, versus the standard three. This
move will eliminate 16 tiny strands of Mozzarella cheese per salad, saving
the airline roughly $691.82 per month.

And now to "they're coming to kill us" Dave Siegel, the current CEO of Gate
Gourmet. I'm sorry folks, but the situation there is just laughable to me.
Since Dave's arrival, some of Gate Gourmet's facilities have been found
infested with rodent droppings, pink slime, etc. A lawsuit has been filed
against Gate Gourmet for serving contaminated carrots on flights out of
Honolulu last year, which caused 45 people to suffer food poisoning across
22 states, Japan, Australia and American Samoa. It's just amazing.

And then, there's the escalating labor problems, which oddly seem to follow
Siegel wherever he goes. You see, Gate Gourmet's U.S. employees have said,
basically, "screw you," to a new cost-cutting contract which, according to
Gate Gourmet, "would have achieved necessary labor cost reductions as part
of its ongoing restructuring efforts." My oh my, doesn't that sound so

It gets better.

Gate Gourmet, in a statement, went on to say that "in light of the balloting
results, Gate Gourmet is reviewing its options going forward. Our strong
preference remains to reach consensual agreements with the labor groups that
will provide the savings critical to a successful restructuring." Man,
that's like the exact crap we heard from US Airways when Siegel was CEO
there. Of course, it could be because it was written by one John Bronson,
the managing director of corporate communications for Gate Gourmet. Correct
me if I'm wrong, but could that be the same John Bronson who was head of US
Airways' corporate communications not too long ago?

Anyway, I just laughed at the press release because it's the same modus
operandi that was used at US Airways. You can read the press release for
yourself by going to:

Dave said recently that he still hears from US Airways employees and that
"99 out of 100" emails were positive. Quit lying dude. You can prove him
wrong, if you want.
[email protected]

Oh yeah, Amtrak's gonna renegotiate their $73 million-a-year contract with
Gate Gourmet. See the article:

It might be some time before you actually get to fly on the Airbus
double-decker A380. But at least you can get an 'idea' of what it will be
like. Check out the trailer for the movie 'FlightPlan,' where the only
thing missing is a pot of hot coffee scalding a little child because the
goofy little half-sized beverage cart tipped over.

Oh yeah, if you want to say "hello" to Doug Parker, chairman of America
[email protected]
Seems like a nice guy.



Remember, if you are going to forward my newsletters to family or friends,
make sure you delete the 'unsubscribe' link at the bottom of the newsletter
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[email protected]

No spam, no selling or sharing of names and email addresses. Just facts.


John McCorkle
Wilmington, NC

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